Lobbying uses the legislative process of Massachusetts to illustrate the general principles of building and executing an effective lobbying campaign and to provide anecdotal evidence of what should or should not happen when using any of the suggested lobbying tactics.
However the basic rules can be used in any state.
“Boston Pols” have a long rowdy history going back to the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party. They have been practicing politics by overthrowing each other ever since. They’re so good at it that when they get bored they either run around the country calling themselves political consultants, or they rewrite their rules to make them a little harder for newcomers to understand. The procedures in the Massachusetts House and Senate are very likely to be more complicated than those in other states. Readers from more sensible states can take comfort in that.
Keep in mind that all fifty states embrace the same checks and balances that are embodied in the United States Constitution. For instance, all states except Nebraska have bicameral (or two?branch) legislatures. Although the particular names, dates, places, and rules may differ from state to state, all the state legislatures (including Nebraska):
- are elected;
- are organized into hierarchical leadership schemes;
- are organized further into specialized-issue committees that hold some sort of hearing on bills;
- have at least one committee more powerful than all the others, with control over the appropriation process;
- have rules that govern the legislative agenda, the length of debate, and the postponement of debate;
- must either have gubernatorial approval to enact laws or must override the Governor’s disapproval;
- have a clerk’s or a counsel’s office where petitions and bills are filed and where any question can be asked (though not always completely answered); and
- have one room somewhere where copies of bills and the day’s agenda can be found.
Finally — have fun! The process and the players can be goofy, but, most politicians are, by profession, charming and colorful. Resist taking them, or yourself, too seriously. And remember, significant changes in public policy have been made by individuals and small groups with determination, tenacity, and a sense of humor.
Lobbying can be obtained from Mass Continuing Legal Education at Ten Winter Place, Boston MA 02108 1-800-966 6253
Lobbying on a Shoestring, Judith C. Meredith
©2000 Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education